Hardly a month goes by without a news story about car cruising in some community in some part of the country. The news is usually peppered with the words misery, anti-social behaviour, noise, and dangerous. Hardly surprising when you realise that car cruising consists of people meeting up in public locations to show off their vehicles, race, do stunts, ride in convoy and a myriad of other activities which are often distressing to local residents.
Car cruising is not new and attempts to bring it under control are not new either. Often it involves a local authority or a collection of local authorities seeking a High Court Injunction to ban car cruising in a certain geographical area. In 2016 in Birmingham the Council successfully applied for an injunction to cover the whole of Birmingham, Solihull did the same in its authority area and at the end of 2014 Sandwell, Wolverhampton, Walsall and Dudley got an injunction to cover all of the Black Country.
Injunctions are required because otherwise the powers the police have to rely on are more limited – for example, dealing with individual acts of anti-social behaviour or dangerous driving.
But the limitations of this approach are clear – not only does the behaviour simply get displaced to a different area but the costs associated with obtaining an injunction are not to be sniffed at. In the Black Country case there were 137 witness statements presented to the court. The costs soon add up.
The time for an injunction led enforcement regime has, in my opinion passed. If we are to get a true grip of this menace then we need a national regulatory framework with tough enforcement powers for the police. Only then will be able to rid our neighbourhoods of the scourge of car cruising.
Update 15th Jan 2017
15th Janury 2017 One of the arguments for a national framework must be that obtaining injunctions costs money. In the West Midlands injunctions have been obtained in Birmingham, Sandwell, Wolverhampton, Walsall, Dudley and Solihull. I have laid Freedom of Information requests in each of the authorities to find out how much these injunctions cost to obtain.
Update Feb 5th 2017
Q. How much did it cost Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council to secure the injunction to ban car cruising in the Black Country. The injunction was secured in conjunction with Wolverhampton, Dudley and Sandwell and was granted in December 2014. The cost should include legal costs including external legal fees and the cost of using legal officers and solicitors employed directly by the council.
A. £19,861.00 (This represents Dudley’s quarter share of legal fees incurred by Wolverhampton CC and external Counsel on behalf of the four black country boroughs) up to 1/2/15 (when injunction came into force)
£3,639.49 (our own costs in terms of legal officer time for the same period) £23,500.49 (Grand Total)
In answer to your request, the cost of securing the injunction for Sandwell was £21,511.60.
Total liability for Wolverhampton was therefore £94,528.87
Costs Sharing Agreement with other Black Country Boroughs We negotiated an agreement with our counterparts (Dudley, Sandwell and Walsall) with effect from 21/05/2014 to the end of the case. This was that the four councils would bear ¼ of the costs (Wolverhampton’s legal costs plus expenses). On 09/01/2015 we “billed” our counterparts for 716.2 hours of Legal’s time plus Counsel’s costs and disbursements and split this four ways. That is £19,861.00 (Our liability 21/05/2014 to 09/01/2015). Dudley, Sandwell and Walsall each paid their share. Combined total received from them £59,583. The Actual Costs Actual cost to Wolverhampton £94,528.87 less £59,583.00 which is £34,945.87
I would like to request the local authority provide me with the following information: How much did it cost Solihull Borough Council to secure the injunction to ban car cruising in Solihull. The injunction was secured in August 2016. The cost should include legal costs including external legal fees and the cost of using legal officers and solicitors employed directly by the council.
The total cost for this was £12,023.
Not yet responded REQUEST - RFI0004/17
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000
REQUEST FOR INFORMATION - FOI 16118
I am writing further to your Freedom of Information Request which we responded to in January 2017 concerning the injunction taken to ban car cruising. At this time we believed that it was West Midlands Police who secured this injunction and responded to you to this effect.
I am extremely sorry but we have now had it confirmed that it was actually Birmingham City Council who secured the injunctions for car cruising in Birmingham in 2016 and not West Midlands Police. I therefore refer to your original request which also asked for the costs of securing this injunction. I can advise that the legal costs for this action amounted to £16,430 and included costs for our internal legal team, Counsel and associated costs.
Please accept our apologies on this matter.
Update 15th Feb 2017
I have written to the Government minister to ask him to take action http://www.shabanamahmood.org/node/817
Update March 2017